Close the BIG Deal - Use the PIG Principle
By: Vince Poscente

The principles of peak performance in sport parallel closing the BIG deal in business. One of the greatest long term benefits for business that I gained from my experience as an Olympian is how to achieve superior results from a simple, yet profound approach - the PIG Principle.

The big challenge in sport is being able to perform at the highest level when it counts the most. In speed skiing, each qualifying round meant more pressure, more stress and more of an opportunity to choke. Time and again, we found, when stress was too high and mismanaged, that the results would be negative. It became clear that the challenge was to find the opposite to stress and we could set the stage for positive results. I found the answer in the most peculiar way.

In the year prior to the Olympics there was one World Cup race that had particular importance. If I did well, I would guarantee a spot on the Olympic team. If I did not do well, I would jeopardize my chances. The pressure was on and I knew what I had to do. Fortunately, I managed to qualify for each round, working my way to the finals. In the final run I made the decision to "bullet" my way down the track. I imagined my body the shape of a bullet, slicing through the air with speed and power.

I looked at the starter and he said, "go". He then clicked his stopwatch to count down from 60 seconds. In speed skiing there is a 100-meter speed trap at the bottom so the athlete can choose to leave any time he wishes within the 60-second window. I checked the windsock at the bottom of the track and it showed no crosswind. I picked my line and started to recoil my body and explode out of the start area. Suddenly, about 10 feet away, two people started to argue. The instigator's nick-name was Pig. The argument quickly escalated into a screaming match.

I could not believe what was going on. Here I am, in the start gate and Pig was being a royal jerk. Before long, I took my attention off Pig and back to the task at hand. "That's right," I said to myself "forget about Pig. I am here to race. I am a bullet. That's right. I am a bullet." With my focus back in check I looked back at the starter and he stared back with an odd blank stare. "I am ready to go", I thought to myself. So, I gave him a bit of a dirty look, which said, "Well?" Then, he rolled his eyes, looked back at me and spoke three surprising words while holding up the stopwatch... "I said go" he replied with a smirk.

I forgot the clock was ticking down. Before I knew what was going on I took off down the track. In three seconds I was up to 60 miles per hour. I started to talk out loud to myself. "Get focused!" 80 miles per hour. "I am a bullet." 100 miles per hour. "I'm a bullet, I'm a bullet, I'm a bullet, I'm a PIG, I'm a PIG...." At this point my mind seemed to go into slow motion. "Where did that come from?" I wondered. Then I started to laugh. Well, wouldn't that be something... a pig on skis. The more I laughed the more I made myself laugh. Suddenly I found myself crossing the speed trap and I stood up to slow down, still laughing about this pig thing.

Then it hit me. I had a shot at breaking the national speed skiing record and I blew it. I was a pig. At the finish area I will never forget what I saw. The national record was 126 miles per hour. Flashing on the board was my name and the speed 130 miles per hour. A new record... my highest world cup ranking ever... and I was a pig.

The valuable lesson I learned from this was that I was having fun. Pure, blissful fun sets the stage for peak performance. I have since made it a choice to have fun each and every time I go into a negotiation, a sale or any activity that requires my best.

Jim Loehre, reputed sport psychologist and corporate consultant, draws a wonderful analogy. Imagine that you are going to enter a negotiation tomorrow morning at 10 am. If you close this deal, it could mean to you $100 million dollars. This deal would secure your financial future and for your generations to come. Now, it is 9:59 am the next day. What is your stress level? HUGE! What do you think your chances of closing the deal are if your stress is out of control? The opposite of stress is fun. And fun will open the door for the results you most desire. Your quest, like that of every Olympic athlete, is to find a way to have fun in pressure situations.

As odd as the Pig story is, its effectiveness is profound. On your next big sale or negotiation, be prepared and have fun. The results will astound you.

- Copyright 2002 by Vince Poscente. All rights reserved.

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